Does Kenya Get the Full Benefit From its Tourist Industry?
My coursework task is to write a report about Kenya to show that I have studied Kenya and its tourist industry and can make a judgement about how much Kenya benefits from the tourists that visit the country.
Kenya is an equatorial country located on the east side of the continent of Africa bordering Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and the Indian Ocean.Kenya is also bordered by Lake Victoria in the west.Kenya lies between 5ï¿½N and 5ï¿½S and covers an area of 582,646Kmï¿½.
Kenya has an extremely diverse relief with a low coastal plain spanning 536km, inland plateaux regions and multiple mountain ranges and isolated peaks.
Tourism has become the most important part of Kenya’s economy accounting for 38% of industry in the developing country. Kenya’s main tourist attractions are the many game parks across the country, including the popular Massai Mara reserve and the more exclusive Tsavo National Park. Kenya also offers Golden beaches and 5-star hotels along its 536km of coastline.
The map below shows the location of Kenya within Africa, Important tourist destinations, Major Game reserves and relief.
Map of Kenya and the Surrounding Countries
Kenya lies on the equator but the annual rainfall is unusually low and varies from year to year. This is due to the seasonal winds blowing the intertropical cloud and rain relatively quickly across Kenya in April and October and the Monsoons taking a track parallel to the coast and passing over large areas of land before reaching Kenya.
You would expect the temperature in Kenya to be constantly high as it is an equatorial and so the sunlight hits the earth vertically and with more concentration than at latitudes away from the equator all year round, but the average temperatures in Kenya are relatively low compared to other equatorial African countries due to the variation in altitude. Only the low lying coastal areas of Kenya experience constant high temperature associated with equatorial locations.
There are two rainy seasons; March – May and November – December and two dry seasons in between. The country’s climate can be divided into four regions:
The temperature and humidity stay relatively high all year round but the offshore wind and the long days make the area bearable. It receives some rain all year round mostly in the small hours of the morning.
The Northern Frontier and Lower Inland Plateau
This section of the country experiences a low annual rainfall considering its equatorial location (usually below 500mm). The temperatures are high throughout the year and the humidity low.
The Kenya Highlands
This region to the west of the country is the most agriculturally productive land in the country. As Kenya is a developing country with a huge slice of its industry being primary the region is also the most densely populated.
Kenya’s Double rainy season does feature in the region but rainfall is moderate and exceeds 1250mm only on the highest parts of the area. The region experiences its lowest temperatures from June to September, the nights being described as “chilly”.
The Higher Mountain Regions
These areas are above 2500m and are small. Temperatures fall low enough for frost to form and some snow to fall. Mt Kenya has a permanent snow cap.
Kenya receives two rainy seasons because of the tilt of the earth when orbiting the sun. The following diagram illustrates this:
The tropic of Capricorn is closest to the sun. It becomes warmed by the sun. During the day more water evaporates causing clouds to form bringing rain.
231/2ï¿½South Tropic of Capricorn
The earth spins on its axis, the angle at which it faces the sun changes gradually tilting towards the equator this then warms the equator
0ï¿½ Equator – Kenya
This tilt increases until it reaches 231/2 N where the tropic of cancer is warmed.
231/2ï¿½North Tropic of Cancer
The whole process is reversed tilting back to the tropic of Capricorn via the equator. The full tilt and reverse tilt of the earth’s axis takes a year. This is why Kenya has two rainy seasons due to the position of the overhead sun.
The two Climate graphs above show the climate of Mombassa, Kenya and London, England for comparison. The Graph of Mombassa shows the two rainy seasons. The graphs also indicate a main reason why tourists visit Kenya. The lowest temperature Mombassa endures is 24ï¿½C, higher than the highest temperature London endures. The Hottest times of the year in Mombassa coincide with the coldest time of the year in London. This is one of the major reasons tourists visit Kenya.
Because the country has two rainy seasons it also has two grazing seasons. The Savannah ecosystem means that more species can live in harmony together. Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory states that when two species are in direct competition the best evolved will survive, the reason the Savannah can support so many animals is that all the animals have a “niche” and so are not all in direct competition. Some species are Grazers, some are browsers etc. This is called Grazing succession; the grazing succession ensures that every opportunity to use the supply of food is taken. It is a similar pattern for Carnivores; Lions make a kill but leave plenty of food for spotted Hyenas and again for the vultures. Each specie waits in turn to be fed.
The following diagram is an example of Grazing succession:
The Savannah is famed for the diversity of species of large animals that live there. There are near forty different types of herbivores, plus the carnivores, this is a simple food web of part of the savannah ecosystem: The Savannah and the balance of the ecosystem is important to Kenya’s Tourist Industry as it provides the main incentive for tourists to holiday there. It is important that the Industry does all it can to preserve the delicate balance.
The following table is a selection of the people who are involved with Kenya’s tourist industry. It helps sum up their views and why they hold that view. It also helps me conclude which direction the people involved in Kenya’s tourist industry wish it to go.
Group(s) of people they represent
What view they hold about tourism In Kenya
Why they hold their view
A European Tourist
Tourism is good for Kenya but only when it is controlled
It is their lifelong dream to go on safari and think that it’s excellent to see all the animals in their natural habitat. But they have reservations about how much the tourists are damaging the animal’s natural habitat.
A Kenyan Maasai
Against mass tourism
The Maasai people have been ejected from their homeland to make way for the tourists. They are no longer allowed to live in the game park. The tribe is no longer allowed to migrate around the country.
Muslim from Mombassa
The Muslim community of Mombassa
Induces changes to there culture and insults their religious followings. I.e. western women show their bodies. Tourists bring with them alcohol, drugs and sex tourism. Mombassa has therefore found a rise in crime and social unbalance as young black men marry older white women and immigrate to Europe.
Muslim from Lamu
The Muslim community of Lamu
For sustainable tourism
Lamu has restrictions on the way tourists dress and behave. There are no bars in Lamu and there are restrictions on the size and design of hotels. E.g. they have to be white and made of local materials. The Muslim community also work closely with travel agents and a certain amount of the price tourists pay towards there holiday goes back into the community and maintenance of the town.
A Marine Biologist
Against tourism as it is now
Tour guides don’t do enough to prevent the destruction of the coral. They let tourists stand on the coral and even drop their anchors (which is illegal but the law is not enforced) because of the bigger tips on offer. This means the coral reef becomes unbalanced and slowly dies and therefore no more tourists will want to go and see the reef. Laws should be enforced to save the reef and any future tourism.
Owner of Glass Bottom Boat
For and against
Gets a major income from taking tourists out in their boat. The marine park is swamped by boats at low tide which means there are lots of pollutants are going into the reef. The boats also collide into the reef and their customers also stand on the reef.
Against tourism as it is
Tour bus drivers in the Maasai Mara reserve go far too close to the animals. There is a rule that they can’t go closer than 25m to animal but they disobey this rule for better tips. There are too many tourist busses for him to police. The animals suffer and reproduction rates have dropped rapidly.
Most of the above groups are for tourism in one way or another. It seems that they all would like to have a sustainable tourist industry where the needs of the tourists aren’t put above that of the local population and the natural habitat. Sustainable tourism would also prolong the life of the tourist destinations thus providing an income for many generations of Kenyans.
So, Does Kenya get the full benefit from its tourist industry?
Kenya is a developing country. I can see that it is a developing country by using development indicators. These include; GNP (Gross National Product), jobs, Trade, population, health and education. Most Kenyans are employed in the primary sector; relatively few are involved in secondary or tertiary industry apart from tourism. This is shown in the pie chat below:
This is one indicator that Kenya is developing. Another indicator is that most of Kenya’s exports are raw materials (Shown in the chart below), this shows that the country is developing compared to a developed country like the United Kingdom whose exports are mainly manufactured goods and services.
Kenya also has a high birth rate, infant mortality rate and a low literacy rate, all of which are indicators of a developing country. Possibly the Best way to judge whether a country is developing is by looking at its GNP (Gross National Product). The table below shows that Kenya is still developing as a county because it shows 83% of the countries in the world to have a higher GNP than that of Kenya. Compared with a Developed country such as the United Kingdom (GNP- ï¿½18700) and even with man African counties Kenya has a long way to go before it can call itself a developed country.
Table 8. Kenya: GNP (Gross National Product)
Countries in the world with higher GNP than Kenya
Countries in the world with same GNP as Kenya
Countries in the world with lower GNP than Kenya
Countries in Africa with higher GNP than Kenya
Countries in Africa with same GNP as Kenya
Countries in Africa with lower GNP than Kenya
Kenya’s GNP per person (1995) = US $280
Kenya needs to continue to develop tourism as it will bring more money into the country so it can start providing better health services and education services for its population. Tourism is seen as a good way to continue developing a country.
The table printed below shows employment in the hotel industry. General Managers in hotels are mainly Non-African. This means that a lot of money is not going to Kenyan employees and therefore doesn’t go back into the community. This also true with some Hotel profits going to multinational companies based in developed countries. This means the profits of the tourist trade done by these multinational giants aren’t going back into Kenya.
However I feel that if Kenya continues to develop it will start to produce graduates capable of filling higher positions in the tourist industry, therefore bringing more money back into Kenya’s economy.
At the present time Kenya has developed tourism in the inland game and safari parks and along the shores of the Indian Ocean. The development along the coast is mainly luxury hotels, new developments that have sprung up especially for the tourists. Most of the Game parks have gone this way too with 5-star lodges etc. there are only a few exceptions, Tsavo Safari park is one of them with the emphasis on preserving the land and protecting it from the potential devastation tourism can bring.
Most Kenyans benefit from tourism in Kenya, mainly the people who work directly with the tourists or derive their incomes from the industry, for example hotel owners, tour guides and safari park operators, But also the whole of Kenya can potentially benefit from tourism if the money spent by tourists in Kenya is put back into the community in the form of hospitals and schools.
The groups of people who are affected in a negative way by tourism are mainly those whose ways of life are changed or oppressed by the tourists. For example the Muslim community of Mombassa. They feel that the tourists don’t respect their way of life and their religious followings.
Personally I feel that Kenya is feeling the full benefit from tourism as they see a huge amount of people now holidaying in Kenya. However I do feel that the Kenyan tourist board needs to do more to work towards maintaining a sustainable tourist industry if it wishes to continue to feel the full benefit.
The Kenyan authorities should take note of example like Tsavo National Park and Lamu where sustainable tourism is already operating. In these areas special care is taken not to damage the environment. For example in Tsavo the accommodation is Temporary and so can be moved about so the land receives equal wear. The tour guides also operate under strict rules when approaching animals and taking paths along the park. In Lamu a levee is placed on all tourist payments to go back into the town to maintain the local way of life and therefore the tourist attraction itself. The tourists also are encouraged to abide by the Muslim dress rules when going out and there is no alcohol available in accordance with their religion.
If the Whole of the Kenyan Industry adopted policies similar to this it would preserve the tourist attractions for generations of Kenyans and would most probably attract more tourists, as the people who go to Kenya like to experience local culture and animals in their natural habitat, rather than it feel manufactured to their needs.
Kenya will also further its economical development by operating this scheme as it will ensure a higher percentage of income from the tourist trade staying in the country.